A California judge has ruled there is no reason for law enforcement to keep body camera footage of the attack on Paul Pelosi from the public.
Judge Stephen M. Murphy of the San Francisco Superior Court sided with a group of news organizations that sued for the release of police body camera footage and the recording of the 911 call placed by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi’s husband.
Attorneys representing the 12 media organizations involved in the lawsuit argued in court documents that there is no risk of identifying sensitive witnesses or impacting privacy as the evidence has already been viewed during a pretrial hearing in December.
“This is just such a case where the public interest in openness is paramount. The defendant is accused of entering the residence of the then-Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (second in the Presidential line of succession) with the apparent intent of, at minimum, grievously injuring her, and attacking her husband,” the filing stated. “The nature of the alleged crime justifies a maximum amount of transparency.”
“As courts repeatedly have recognized, the right of access ensures that members of the public and their surrogates in the press are able to monitor and scrutinize the justice system and the performance of police, prosecutors, and judges as they carry out vital public functions,” the lawsuit continued.
A spokesman for the court said that “court staff is working to make a copy of the requested exhibits to distribute to an attorney for the news coalition,” reports The San Francisco Standard.
On Oct. 28, police arrested David DePape at the Pelosi’s home in San Francisco. Law enforcement reported that the 42-year-old had broken into the residence in search of the then-Speaker of the House, who was in Washington DC at the time. DePape then allegedly attacked Mr. Pelosi with a hammer.
Pelosi sustained a fractured skull and was transported to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where he underwent brain surgery.
DePape has been charged with attempted murder, first-degree residential burglary, elder abuse, assault with a deadly weapon, false imprisonment, and threatening the family member of a public official. He entered a not-guilty plea while in court on Dec. 28.
Initially, reports of the attack stated that DePape was in his underwear at the time of the attack and that Pelosi referred to his attacker as a “friend” while speaking with emergency operators – which ignited speculation about a potential connection between the two men. These details have since been denied as inaccurate.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “DePape’s lawyers opposed making that evidence public, saying it could jeopardize his right to a fair trial and stir up more misinformation about the case.”
The Times was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, as well as Fox, The New York Times, and the Associated Press.
The video of the attack is expected to be released on Jan. 27.